Monday, February 5, 2001
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Posted on: Monday, February 5, 2001

Dental care for children at issue

By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii has launched a hot line and produced brochures in an effort to help more poor children receive dental care.

The ACLU said children on Medicaid and QUEST, the state’s managed-care program for the poor, are not receiving adequate access to dental care. The ACLU has been investigating the issue over the last nine months.

"Part of the problem appears to be that parents have not been effectively informed of the importance of regular dental care and the right to free preventative care for Med-QUEST children," said ACLU Legal Director Brent White.

Only 33 percent of QUEST and Medicaid children received at least one dental visit in the 1999 fiscal year, according to the ACLU. State Department of Human Services officials have acknowledged that some children covered by QUEST face problems gaining access to dental care, but that the department offers them transportation.

The brochure includes information on the effects of poor dental care, what is entitled by law to children covered by QUEST and what to do if parents run into problems. The ACLU set up its dental hot line, at 522-5904, to monitor any problems parents may have.

The ACLU will distribute the brochures through primary care centers, social service agencies and the Legal Aid Society. Brochures will also be available by contacting the ACLU.

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